Based on my perusal last week, successful candidates for a children’s librarian position will have:
- An ALA-accredited MLIS degree
- Knowledge of child development
- Ability to answer reference and reader’s advisory questions for children
- Knowledge of effective library programming for children
- Knowledge of children’s literature and the ability to effectively develop the children’s collection
- Computer skills
- Strong customer service
- Flexibility and willingness to work in other areas as well (circulation, adult reference, etc.)
I already have customer service skills that I have developed throughout my work history thus far, and would be ready to complete a diverse set of tasks beyond the typical children’s librarian position. As part of my undergraduate English degree, I took a children’s literature class and an adolescent literature class, so I have a head start there. I also took a lifespan development class during undergrad, so I have a basic understanding of child development, although I could probably do with a refresher.
My education in the MLIS program at WSU should allow me to gain the other major qualifications needed. I will graduate with an ALA-accredited degree. I am currently taking a reference class and a computer class, and plan to take “Programming for Children and Young Adults,” a collection development class, a children’s literature class to expand on what I learned in college, and “Website Development.”
Interestingly, none of the job postings I saw mentioned a certificate in child and youth services as either a requirement or a desired qualification, so I am leaning towards not adding the extra semester it would take to get the certificate officially, but to use my electives to take classes that are part of the certificate to gain the needed skills employers are looking for. (Taking the classes also leaves open the possibility of adding the certificate later on in my studies if employers do start requesting it.)
That just leaves experience. I am currently working in a library, but not in the children’s department. I plan to find an opportunity, whether unofficially at my job, through an internship, or by volunteering, to gain child/youth specific experience before I graduate. Some of the experience requirements are fairly extensive, however, so I might need to start in an entry level general librarian position and work my way up, which would be fine.
What I discovered this week essentially makes the goals I discussed earlier in the semester more focused and specific. I still intend to learn the necessary skills and gain the necessary qualifications to obtain a job and do it well, but this week’s post specifies what those skills and qualifications actually are.